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College grants are usually a need based funding awarded to students based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and Financial Need. The most commonly offered need based grant program is the Federal Pell Grant, made available to about 10 million college students for the 2012-2013 academic year. Individual states may also offer need based grants to students residing within the state. Grants are also offered by individual colleges to help offset the costs after all other available federal and state aid has been applied.

In order to qualify for any grant funding you must first file the FAFSA form. The earlier you file the FAFSA the better your chances to qualify for grants from colleges. This is because school based grants are awarded in a first come, first serve basis.

Grants are not Scholarships and do not follow the same guidelines for eligibility. Financial need is the primary method used in determining grant eligibility.

Pell Grant:

The Pell Grant is the most common federal student aid grant. It is issued to students based on financial need that attend eligible schools and meet certain household income requirements.

The first step in determining eligibility for the Pell grant is to file the Free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

What is used to Determine Pell Grant Eligibility:

  • Your Expected Family Contribution as determined by the FAFSA
  • Your Cost of Attendance
  • Whether you’re a full-time or part-time student
  • Whether you attend school for a full academic year
  • You are enrolled in a regular degree program.
  • You are a U.S citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
  • You are making Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • You are not in default on any federal student aid and do not owe a refund on a federal education grant.
  • You show financial need as determined by the results of the FAFSA.
  • You have NOT previously earned a bachelor’s degree. However, in some cases a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG):

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. In order to receive an FSEOG the student must first be Pell Grant eligible. The lowest expected family contributions will be first considered for an FSEOG. Just like Pell Grants, the FSEOG does not have to be repaid. You can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year based on timely FAFSA filing and the total financial need and availability of FSEOG funding at your school of attendance. The school’s financial aid office is given great leeway for the awarding of FSEOG based on the financial need of the student body. Your schools financial aid office will notify you about your FSEOG eligibility via the award letter; This notification will specifically list your total FSEOG amount along with the method of distribution. Schools must disburse funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter); Schools that do not use semesters, trimesters, or quarters must disburse funds at least twice per academic year.

TIPS to Remember:

As a new freshman, you may receive different grant award amounts from different schools.  If your school of choice is offering less grant award than other schools you have applied, try and get the award from you school of choice increased.  Write an explanation letter to the school explaining why you feel the award should be increased  and attach a copy of the other grant award letters you received.  Let the school know that you would like to be considered for the same award amount being granted from the competing schools.

If you notice your award amount decreasing from prior years of attendace,  try writing a letter of appeal to your financial aid office. According to the FAFSA information you file, federal need based funding may change each year, but schools are able to revise award amounts from time to time.  

Teach Grant:

If you are looking to become a teacher, a TEACH Grant may be a solution for getting the funding you need. There are some things you need to know.

  • The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students that are pursuing a career in teaching.
  • If you accept this grant you must agree to serve as a full-time teacher in a high-need field in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students.

Below are examples of  high need fields?

  • Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition.
  • Foreign Language.
  • Mathematics.
  • Reading Specialist.
  • Science.
  • Special Education.

You are also required to teach for at least four academic years within eight calendar years of completing the program of study for which you received a TEACH Grant.

If you fail to complete this service obligation, all amounts of TEACH Grants that you received will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. You must then repay this loan to the U.S. Department of Education. You will be charged interest from the date the grant was disbursed.

When considering all of the requirements, you will have to make a very committed decision to become a teacher if you want this grant. You will be required to work in specific school districts limiting your choice of work environments.

Keep this information into consideration when making a decision for a TEACH Grant.